A UN climate panel endorses an upper limit for greenhouse gas emissions (NY Times).

An appellate courts says that claims against BP need closer scrutiny (Washington Post).

Russia charges Greenpeace activists with piracy (BBC).

Fuel from landfill methane goes on sale (NY Times).

Coal is set to become the leading energy source in Southeast Asia (Bloomberg).

It’s no wonder our federal government has faced challenges in addressing climate change. It can’t even fund itself. And the trickle-down effect is that it could hurt the EPA and its renewable fuel standards for 2014.

It’s hard to imagine a turnaround from last month when the EPA had proposed tighter carbon emission standards for new power plants. It’s also a turnaround from just last week when the U.N.—actually functioning for one of the few times in its history—released a new IPCC report on how man is one of the main causes behind climate change.

This week shows the perils in putting all your eggs in the government basket. As the government is shutdown, progress such as those EPA fuel standards could be delayed, and global warming just won’t wait. It’s time to stop waiting for government or a mystical technological advancement to provide the climate change solution. We need progress now, and the best solution is personal responsibility in cutting down your carbon footprint.

Existing coal-fired power plants might be able to slide past EPA regulations. (New York Times)

The UN’s IPCC climate change report shows that man is the main cause of global warming. (The Economist)

Scientists gave ways to avoid drastic climate change, but it won’t be easy. (Washington Post)

Major floods hit Colorado (Wall Street Journal).

China proposes a plan to curb air pollution (NY Times).

The EPA will propose emissions limits for newly built power plants (NY Times). The coal industry isn’t happy (Bloomberg).

The world throws away about 1/3 of its food (LA Times).

Numbers? You want numbers? Yeah, we got numbers.

The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change is readying to release a draft on climate change later this month, but details of it have leaked out. This comes as NOAA recently released a draft of a report looking at what effect climate change had on 12 extreme weather events last year. And so, we have a bunch of numbers from some different sources, but they’re all boiled down below:

  • The probability of a Sandy-like storm surge is already double what it was in 1950.
  • High temperatures, such as those experienced in the U.S. in 2012, are now likely to occur four times as frequently.
  • If the amount of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere doubles, which is well on its way to happening, the long-term rise in the temperature of the earth will be at least 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit, but more likely above 5 degrees. 
  • If human society keeps burning fossil fuels with abandon, considerable land ice could melt and the ocean could rise as much as three feet by the year 2100. 
  • Large-scale droughts are four times as likely amid current temperatures than at pre-industrial levels.
  • Some climate models project that the Arctic will be ice-free in summer within a decade — spelling disaster for low-lying countries such as Bangladesh and Pacific Island nations.
  • For every 2 degrees Fahrenheit of warming, the EPA says it expects a 5 to 15 percent reduction in crop yields; a 3 to 10 percent increase in rain during heavy precipitation events which can lead to flooding; a 5 to 10 percent decrease in stream flow and some river basins; and a 200 to 400 percent increase in the area burned by wildfire in parts of the western United States.

The numbers keep getting worse, and it’s no coincidence anymore. Global warming is getting worse and needs to be halted.

 

Human activity played a role in several extreme weather events (NY Times).

The EU offers some concessions on airline emissions (NY Times).

Geoengineering gets a look (Washington Post).

The UK considers biodiversity offsetting (BBC).

College athletics tries to go green (Washington Post).

Carnival agrees to reduce cruise ship air pollution (LA Times).

The wildfires in Yosemite have raged for weeks, and while this particular fire seems to be abating, California residents shouldn’t take too deep a breath. Wildfires are going to be a lot more common and stronger, according to a recent study. The main culprit: Climate change.

The findings are fairly simple: The wildfire season will be three weeks longer, cover a larger area in the West, and will be twice as smoky. All by 2050. And with that smoke will come a regression in an environmental standard that the U.S. has actually improved.

Air quality has vastly improved over much of the United States in the past 40 years, as a result of government efforts to regulate emissions. Mickley warns that increasing wildfires may erase some of the progress.

“I think what people need to realize is that embedded in those curves showing the tiny temperature increases year after year are more extreme events that can be quite serious,” she says. “It doesn’t bode well.”

Inside this article is news that the federal government has already used up its wildfire budget with months left in the season. It’s another sign that rhetoric about environmental standards hurting the economy is extremely shortsighted. Wildfires are just the latest lesson in that regard.


A draft UN report says global warming may be slowing down (Bloomberg).

The Yosemite fire is now the 4th-biggest in California history (LA Times).

The fire highlights firefighting differences between the National Park Service and other agencies (LA Times).

Crude oil prices are at an 18-month high (Washington Post). But gas prices aren’t expected to spike dramatically (NY Times).

China’s smog is finally getting the government’s attention (NY Times).

Antarctic ice is more vulnerable to temperature changes than previously thought (BBC).

A big canyon sits under Greenland’s ice (BBC).

With news that the U.S. is considering imminent missile strikes in Syria, and Iran is considering strikes in Israel, the targets, long-term goals and casualties of war are all being considered. A less important, but oft-overlooked aspect of war can be its effect on the environment.

Some articles last year looked at the environmental cost of war. The costs were broken down as: Disruption to water, soil and forests; use of greenhouse gases in moving tanks and bombers into the battlefield; ability of warlords to use the chaos as a time to gain power and delve deeper into deforestation, dust kicked up from vehicles in the desert (this happened specifically in Kuwait).

A lot of the environmentally bad things have been banned internationally, such as destroying forests with Agent Orange. But there’s one detail that sticks out in relation to a possible U.S. strike on Syria:

One need only observe peacetime accidents to see what terror a bomb could unleash if dropped on a modern chemical factory. At the Union Carbide plant in Bhopal, India, in 1984, water infiltrated into a tank holding methyl isocyanate. The mixture caused an explosion that contaminated the surrounding area, killing thousands. Attacks on chemical plants are entirely possible. President Clinton ordered the bombing of a Sudanese factory in 1998 precisely because he thought it was stocked with dangerous chemicals.

The U.S. is considering striking Syria because of the use of chemical weapons, so it’s not a big stretch to think that one of the targets could be a chemical factory. Based upon this article, the environmental effect of that decision needs to be considered much in the same vein as you’d consider the other strategic fallout from the strike itself.

 

Al Gore is optimistic about climate change progress (Washington Post).

A big fire burns near Yosemite (BBC).

Erosion threatens Florida’s beaches (NY Times).

Increased freight rail traffic runs up against the Northwest’s green image (NY Times).

The leak at Fukushima may be worse than acknowledged (BBC).

An air conditioning refrigerant dispute threatens Mercedes sales in France (NY Times).